Seventeen days before James Marshall discovered gold, James Lick, age 52, sailed into town from Lima, Peru bringing with him an iron safe filled with $30,000 in gold doubloons. The money constituted his savings from twenty-five years as a piano maker in South America. In San Francisco, he began buying lots at $16 each. By spring those same lots were selling for $22.50. By September, 1848, lots were worth $3,000. By then he was the richest man in town. (Much later he donated his Gold Rush real estate fortune to build an observatory on Mount Hamilton.)

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